Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

by Sawvivor

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 09/17/2017
Entry Point: Moose/Portage River (north) (EP 16)
Exit Point: Moose/Portage River (north) (EP 16)  
Number of Days: 7
Group Size: 3
Trip Introduction:
This past winter there was a trip planned to the Boundary Waters, paddling out in June and its already go time. Going on this canoe trip will be (Dad) John Bredemeier, Scott Christenson and myself. I’m sitting at the Adventure Inn, in Ely, MN having a cold Fat Tire and thinking/anticipating the trip ahead. I left Minneapolis this afternoon at 2:07PM and battled my way through traffic on 35W. Nearing Pine City, MN the lanes were down to one way South and one way north… either way I was in for some windshield time for this trip. Received a call from Dad and Scott while driving up North, Scott said they got a flat tire on the Subaru and had to schedule 4 new tires to be installed at the Bemidji, MN Tires Plus. Scott said this happened years ago with my Moms Chevy Blazer and I told him “Here we go again!” There was a roar of laughter as I was on the speaker phone in Dads car. As I approached Virginia, MN and headed down the winding, topsy-turvy road to Ely, MN…and all of a sudden it just hit me. I must have had a Zen moment because the sky was clear baby blue and the sun was looking crazy awesome in the distance against the pine trees. That was when I truly felt the transformation from the city and into Boundary Water Territory. Dad and Scott will be here at 10:00PM and my job is to get some ice-cold beer and wine. So, I went to my favorite liquor store in Ely called Mikes Liquor. Now, a trip Dad, Scott and I went on in 2010 took us to Bald Eagle Point, the highest peak in MN. Scott described the trails as gnarly and from that point on, gnarly was that was the themed word of that 2010 trip. We ended up finding a bottle of wine called Gnarly Head and I will forever remember walking the 2 mile hike up to Bald Eagle Devils Point, with tree roots growing over the path and spreading out all over the paths. Talk about a trip hazard! So tonight, in Mikes Liquor store, I found a bottle of Gnarly Head wine. They are going to be so surprised when they get here. Tomorrow morning, we will head over to Piragus Outfitters and pick up a 3 man canoe that Scott rented. Looking like a few days of rain and clouds were ahead of us, according my weather app but after that the entire week had a picture of the sun next to it!
Day 1 of 7
Saturday, June 18, 2016

First Day on the Water Saturday 6/18/16


Moose River North #16…That is the name of our put in point, and to get all your gear to the water, there is a half-mile portage awaiting you. Scott said the portage was the muddiest he has ever seen it, this will be his fourth time into Lac La Croix. With fresh legs and plenty of ambition, we each took a pack and headed down to the water. We will each have to double portage on every portage today, for all the gear we have with us. I get into the front of the canoe, Scott gets in the middle seat, and Dad gets into the bow and shoves us off. The Seneca 3 shoots off into the Boundary Waters! First portage we come to is a 24-meter portage. And there was another group that was trailing behind us. We all used good etiquette as we passed each other with our big packs and canoes. Always look out for your fellow persons while portaging so each portage can be a success. Then next portage coming up is the always popular 65-meter portage that was the worst. We will paddle the Bolder River when going back. While on this portage with that group, one of the guys said to me as we passed each other “This will be the longest portage of the trip” These words were encouraging to me. I thought, if we can knock out this portage, there will be smooth sailing from there. One thing was for certain, we are on track to reach Lac La Croix, might take us 8 long paddling hours but our Spirits were high and our backs were feeling strong. Scott is 65, Dad is 64 and I’m 38 years old. These guys have 129 combined years of canoeing and camping together, and they are still double portaging and carrying canoes on their backs. The following is a rundown on how our 8-hour journey went for portages. 1. 160 Rod 2. 20 Rod 3. 25 Rod 4. Paddle Across Nina Moose 5. 70 Rod 6. 96 Rod 7. Paddle Across Lake Agnes 8. 24 Rod 9. 65 Rod

We ate Cliff Bars and beef jerky sticks my Mom packed for the trip. She got them at L&M Meats in Grand Forks, ND. Let me tell you, those beef sticks tasted so good out here when paddling and portaging all day long. The Cliff Bars are good because they are full of protein, but that’s basically what we ate all day. Never pulled off on a random campsite to have lunch, we were on a mission to reach our campsite. Scott and Dad kept talking about how they camped at this awesome campsite on Lac La Croix about 5 years earlier. Each time they came back up here, that campsite was occupied by some lucky camper.

Headed out this morning from Ely, MN at 10:00am and just finished the last portage into Lac La Croix and it is now 6:00pm. Standing on the shore of the last portage, we load our gear into the canoe and Scott says he can see the campsite he wants to stay at and nobody is there. We were all getting excited as the thought of this awesome campsite is now just a quick paddle across the bay. We are paddling to our destination when suddenly, we see a red canoe come out from the rocks to the right of us. It was the same group we saw in the morning and they were also heading up to Lac La Croix and Tiger Bay area from talking to them on the portage today. They took the Boulder Bay route and they caught up with us. It has officially turned into a race and each of us dug our paddles deeper and Scott yells “Paddle!” In my mind, I was thinking, what are the chances that we paddled and portaged hard for 8 hours today, all to come down to who gets to this campsite first. We were all very tired but found some extra adrenaline once we saw that red canoe come around the corner. Dad was paddling in the back and we were zig zagging a little bit, but it was just enough zig zagging for Scott to say, “a little straighter please!” We could tell this campsite meant a lot to Scott and we all dug our paddles even deeper.

We finally meet up with the red canoe group and ask them if they are going to take that campsite up ahead. To our relief, they said “nope, we are on our way to Beaver House Lake which is in Canada” A feeling of success came over me when I heard that and I started to study the campsite in detail as we paddled the canoe into the small bay. There is a huge bolder in the center of camp and plenty of trees, area for tents, and secluded areas like the one I’m sitting in right now, writing in my journal. I like to find a place where I’m right out in nature, with the sun shining and I can reflect on the trip. Hammer out a few pages of writing and then get into something else around the campsite, I love days like these.

We land at the campsite and my first impression was, this place is very grand! Looking it over like you are buying a house and thinking of where to put the tents, clothing line, and shelter tarps. The number 1 thing Dad said we had to do, was get the tent up before anything else. I had seen a fish jump and I wanted to get my line in the water, but first things first. We were very hungry this day from not eating to many calories on the paddle in. I guarantee we burned way more calories than we took in today. I got the fire going and steaks went on the grill. Dad got the rice pilaf going and we all enjoyed a restaurant quality meal on our first night out at this awesomely Grand Campsite! Later, in the evening, we all got our camping cups and enjoyed a “Blast” of whisky. Dad brought a 750ml of whisky and Scott brought two 750ml of whisky and a bottle of tequila. We should be good for a few days with all that, just kidding! I went to sleep in the tent this evening and fell asleep fast. Scott said someone is sawing logs and that had to be my Dad!